How popular is the baby name Lillian in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Lillian and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Lillian.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Lillian

Number of Babies Named Lillian

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Lillian

Lalage: Chatterbox Baby Name?

lalage, baby name, greek

Lalage’s quirky definition is what first caught my eye.

Horace, the Roman poet, created the name Lalage over two thousand years ago from the ancient Greek word lalagein, meaning “to chatter,” “to prattle,” “to babble,” or (in the case of a bird) “to chirp.” He invented it as a fitting alias for the “sweetly laughing, sweetly talking” woman described in Ode 1.22:

dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo,
dulce loquentem.

The name Lalage has since appeared in other literary works, including the play Politian (1835) by Edgar Allan Poe, the poem “Rimini” (1906) by Rudyard Kipling, and the novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) by John Fowles.

In The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the mother of the child named Lalage “pronounced it as a dactyl, the g hard.” So: LAL-a-ghee. But I checked other sources (such as this one) and found a variety of pronunciation suggestions.

There are two distinct camps regarding the G, for instance — the hard-G camp (lal-a-ghee) and the soft-G camp (lal-a-dgee). I think the soft-G makes the most sense for English-speakers, as the English forms of other Greek-origin names (like George and Eugene) also tend to have soft G’s, but that’s just personal opinion.

Lalage has since become the name of an asteroid (822 Lalage) and a genus of birds (the trillers), but my favorite association so far is the mid-20th-century circus performer.

Lalage — whose real name was Hedwig Roth — was an aerialist with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. According to one circus program, she was a “dusty blonde of French-Swiss origin” and she pronounced her name lä-lä-gay, but she had “given up trying to sell people that idea” because most people assumed it was lä-LÄZH. (See what I mean about the various pronunciations?)

Here’s the first stanza of the poem “Lalage!” (1946) by American poet Charles Olson:

The legs of Lalage toss, and toss, and toss
(l’esprit de femme)
against the canvas of the circus sky

What do you think of the name Lalage? Would it be a good alternative to popular girl names like Lillian or Lily?

Sources:


Most Popular First Letters for Baby Names, 2016

What were the most popular first letters for baby names in 2016?

Here’s a chart showing the first letter breakdown for girl names:

first letter, girl names, baby names, 2016, chart

For girls, the most-used first letter was A, followed by M and E. The least-used first letter was U.

The three most-used girl names per letter last year were…

A: Ava, Abigail, Amelia
B: Brooklyn, Bella, Brianna
C: Charlotte, Chloe, Camila
D: Delilah, Daisy, Daniela
E: Emma, Emily, Evelyn
F: Faith, Finley, Fiona
G: Grace, Genesis, Gabriella
H: Harper, Hannah, Hazel
I: Isabella, Isabelle, Ivy
J: Julia, Josephine, Jade
K: Kennedy, Kaylee, Kylie
L: Lily, Lillian, Layla
M: Mia, Madison, Mila
N: Natalie, Nora, Naomi
O: Olivia, Olive, Oakley
P: Penelope, Paisley, Piper
Q: Quinn, Queen, Quincy
R: Riley, Ruby, Reagan
S: Sophia, Sofia, Scarlett
T: Taylor, Trinity, Teagan
U: Unique, Uma, Una
V: Victoria, Violet, Vivian
W: Willow, Willa, Winter
X: Ximena, Xiomara, Xena
Y: Yaretzi, Yareli, Yamileth
Z: Zoey, Zoe, Zara

Here’s the breakdown for boy names:

first letter, boy names, baby names, 2016, chart

For boys, the most-used first letter was J, followed by A and C. The least-used letter was U.

The three most-used boy names per letter last year were…

A: Alexander, Aiden, Anthony
B: Benjamin, Brayden, Bryson
C: Carter, Christopher, Caleb
D: Daniel, David, Dylan
E: Elijah, Ethan, Eli
F: Finn, Felix, Francisco
G: Gabriel, Grayson, Gavin
H: Henry, Hunter, Hudson
I: Isaac, Isaiah, Ian
J: James, Jacob, Jackson
K: Kevin, Kayden, Kingston
L: Liam, Lucas, Logan
M: Mason, Michael, Matthew
N: Noah, Nathan, Nicholas
O: Oliver, Owen, Oscar
P: Parker, Patrick, Preston
Q: Quinn, Quentin, Quincy
R: Ryan, Robert, Roman
S: Samuel, Sebastian, Sawyer
T: Thomas, Theodore, Tyler
U: Uriel, Uriah, Ulises
V: Vincent, Victor, Valentino
W: William, Wyatt, Wesley
X: Xavier, Xander, Xzavier
Y: Yusuf, Yosef, Yahir
Z: Zachary, Zayden, Zane

Finally, here are both genders side-by-side:

first letter, baby names, 2016, chart

Overall, the top first letter was A, followed by J and M. And the least popular letter was, of course, U.

Here’s last year’s post on the most and least popular first letters of 2015.

Most Popular Lengths for Baby Names, 2016

The long and short of it is that U.S. parents don’t choose long and short baby names as often as they choose mid-length baby names. The most popular lengths for baby names in 2016? 6 letters, followed by 5 letters, followed by 7 letters…yet again.

Here’s a chart showing the length breakdown for girl names:

lengths, girl names, baby names, 2016, chart

The most-used girl names per length (from 2 to 10 letters) last year were…

And here’s the breakdown for boy names:

lengths, boy names, baby names, 2016, chart

The most-used boy names per length (from 2 to 10 letters) were…

Finally, here are both genders on the same chart:

lengths, boy names, baby names, girl names, 2016, chart

Here’s last year’s post on the top name lengths of 2015, if you’d like to compare.

Biggest Changes in Girl Name Popularity, 2016

Which girl names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? Which ones decreased the most?

The SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I like to answer it by looking at raw number differences that take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…

Girl Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016

baby names, girl names, more popular

Rankings

1. Kehlani, +2,487 spots — up from 3,359th to 872nd
2. Royalty, +618 spots — up from 1,150th to 532nd
3. Saoirse, +465 spots — up from 1,448th to 983rd
4. Ophelia, +396 spots — up from 976th to 580th
5. Aitana, +368 spots — up from 917th to 549th
6. Itzayana, +356 spots — up from 1,125th to 769th
7. Alessia, +348 spots — up from 1,175th to 827th
8. Kaylani, +301 spots — up from 1,056th to 755th
9. Avianna, +298 spots — up from 751st to 453rd
10. Nalani, +294 spots — up from 1,280th to 986th

Kehlani and Kaylani were influenced by singer/songwriter Kehlani Parrish. (Kehlani was the top debut name of 2015, and variant Khelani debuted impressively in 2016.)

Royalty was influenced by the R&B singer Chris Brown, whose daughter (b. 2014) and 7th album (2015) were both called Royalty.

Saoirse was influenced by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan — perhaps specifically by those American talk show appearances in which she talked to the hosts (Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen Colbert, etc.) about how to pronounce her name. Plus there was that widely circulated Ryan Gosling quote on the same topic (“It’s Ser-sha, like inertia”).

Alessia was influenced by singer/songwriter Alessia Cara.

Raw Numbers

1. Adeline, +1,700 baby girls — up from 2,403 to 4,103
2. Charlotte, +1,649 baby girls — up from 11,381 to 13,030
3. Riley, +1,390 baby girls — up from 5,720 to 7,110
4. Adaline, +971 baby girls — up from 902 to 1,873
5. Amelia, +864 baby girls — up from 9,838 to 10,702
6. Luna, +849 baby girls — up from 2,796 to 3,645
7. Emilia, +804 baby girls — up from 2,215 to 3,019
8. Camila, +765 baby girls — up from 5,271 to 6,036
9. Nova, +754 baby girls — up from 1,518 to 2,272
10. Evelyn, +708 baby girls — up from 9,352 to 10,060

Adeline and Adaline were influenced, at least initially, by the movie The Age of Adaline (2015).

Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Eleanor, Teagan, Kinsley, Scarlett, Everly, Quinn, Aria, Remi, Harper, Penelope, Thea, Claire, Rowan, Hazel, Ruby, Blake, Aurora, Ivy, Harley, Eloise, Willow, Elena, Josephine, Alice, Blakely, Saylor, Nora, Leia, Iris, Margot, Isla, Freya, Samara, Joy, Zara, Eliana, Joanna, and Malia.

Girl Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016

baby names, girl names, less popular

Rankings

1. Caitlin, -542 spots — down from 609th to 1,151st
2. Caitlyn, -462 spots — down from 598th to 1,060th
3. Katelynn, -402 spots — down from 652nd to 1,054th
4. Kaitlynn, -381 spots — down from 994th to 1,375th
5. Neriah, -344 spots — down from 943rd to 1,287th
6. Bryanna, -276 spots — down from 783rd to 1,059th
7. Kiley, -275 spots — down from 898th to 1,173rd
8. Yaritza, -271 spots — down from 935th to 1,206th
9. Denise, -210 spots — down from 993rd to 1,203rd
10. Kaelyn, -203 spots — down from 521st to 724th

caitlyn jenner, magazine coverCaitlin, Caitlyn, Katelynn, and Kaitlynn, were negatively influenced by Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), who appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in mid-2015 with the headline “Call me Caitlyn.”

This reminds me of what happened a few decades ago to Hillary — another name that was strongly associated for a time with a female who wasn’t conforming to gender norms. Perhaps tellingly, the name Bruce wasn’t hit nearly as hard. Jenner did fall of the charts, though.

Raw Numbers

1. Sophia, -1,311 baby girls — down from 17,381 to 16,070
2. Alexa, -1,289 baby girls — down from 6,049 to 4,760
3. Madison, -1,090 baby girls — down from 10,072 to 8,982
4. Emma, -1,001 baby girls — down from 20,415 to 19,414 (…but still the #1 name overall)
5. Aubrey, -869 baby girls — down from 7,376 to 6,507
6. Isabella, -852 baby girls — down from 15,574 to 14,722
7. Emily, -840 baby girls — down from 11,766 to 10,926
8. Kylie, -753 baby girls — down from 4,149 to 3,396
9. Alexis, -744 baby girls — down from 3,406 to 2,662
10. Abigail, -672 baby girls — down from 12,371 to 11,699

Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Kaitlyn, Avery, Allison, Alyssa, London, Kaylee, Sofia, Katelyn, Kimberly, Zoey, Mia, Chloe, Kendall, Taylor, Sadie, Khloe, Mackenzie, Hannah, Peyton, Addison, Samantha, Ashley, Olivia, Gabriella, Brianna, Lauren, Anna, Brooklyn, Morgan, Jocelyn, Sydney, Natalie, Victoria, Makayla, Zoe, Hailey, Payton, Brooke, Annabelle, Trinity, Keira, Adalyn, Jordyn, Kayla, Molly, Audrey, Faith, Madelyn, Lillian, Caitlin, Caitlyn, Makenzie, Paige, Aaliyah, Paisley, Nevaeh, Elizabeth, Amy, and Jessica.

Interesting how certain like-names went in opposite directions last year. Leia, Alessia, and Adaline rose; Leah, Alyssa, and Adalyn fell.

Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please comment!

(In 2015, the big winners were Alexa and Alaia, and the big losers were Isabella and Isis.)

Sources: Change in Popularity from 2015 to 2016, Emma and Noah Remain Social Security’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2016

Ariosa – Possible Baby Name?

arbuckles coffee, ariosa, advertisement,

I came across the name-like word Ariosa while doing research for the Isla Tudor post. What did Ariosa refer to? A coffee blend sold during the late 1800s and early 1900s by Arbuckle Bros., which was a well-known East Coast coffee company at that time.

The Arbuckle brothers, John and Charles, started selling coffee that was pre-roasted and packed in convenient one-pound bags in the 1860s. (Up to that point, coffee was typically sold green and in big sacks or barrels). They also extended the shelf-life of their roasted beans by glazing them with an egg-sugar mix. Perhaps most importantly, they marketed their coffee products aggressively (and rather cleverly).

Ariosa, a blend that was introduced in 1873, ended up becoming the first coffee brand to attain national renown in the United States. Arbuckles’ Ariosa was particularly popular among Westerners, including cowboys and ranchers. It was often referred to as “the coffee that won the west,” in fact. Ariosa dominated the Western coffee market for many decades, and was available for purchase until the 1940s.

The word Ariosa caught my eye because of its resemblance to the trendy baby name Aria (now ranked 29th). It also reminded me of Liliosa, which could be considered a fanciful form of Lily (ranked 25th) or Lillian (ranked 26th).

How did the Arbuckles come up with the word “Ariosa”? No one knows for sure, but the two most popular theories suggest it’s an acronym:

  • Arbuckle + Rio + South America
  • Arbuckle + Rio + Santos (another Brazilian coffee port)

The word Ariosa is also similar to the Italian musical term arioso, which is basically operatic singing that is not quite as formal as an aria.

So has Ariosa ever been used as a baby name before? Yes, but infrequently. It has never appeared in the SSA’s baby name data, but I do see one Ariosa in the SSDI and I’ve spotted several others on historical U.S. censuses.

What do you think — would Ariosa make a good name for babies being born today?

Sources:

  • Balthazar, Scott L. Historical Dictionary of Opera. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2013.
  • Funderburg, Anne Cooper. “Cowboy Coffee.” True West 1 Jul. 2001.
  • Ukers, William Harrison. All About Coffee. New York: The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company, 1922.
  • Williams, Jacqueline Block. “Arbuckles’.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. by Andrew F. Smith. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Company, 2007.

P.S. Here are a few more names names associated with coffee.